When reduced to three sentences, my Saturday sounds familiar to the point of banality: I ran errands. I cleaned my house. I comforted a friend. But nothing is quite that simple in Kenya (as so few things in my life in general are), so I now reserve the right to bore you with my example of what a semi-typical Peace Corps Saturday is like. At least, for now. Schedules here are about as fixed as the goo inside a lava lamp.

My day started at 7:30, as it usually does on weekends, to the Screaming Child Brigade making a rather impressive ruckus outside my window. I tried to go back to sleep, but as the din outside was rapidly increased by the addition of “90s Songs You Wish You Never Had To Hear Again: The Techno Remix” blasting from someone’s stereo, that plan didn’t work out. (Kenya: where old music comes to die.)

In the States, I had a clock radio that was set to wake me up on Saturdays in time to listen to Car Talk and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, so after brushing my teeth and making some milky tea, I wrapped myself in a leso, popped in my earbuds, and did my best to recreate this little slice of my pre-Peace Corps life. It’s nice to take a break sometime. I sketched out a list of all the things I had to do – post office, groceries, bank, Safaricom dealer – on the back of a newsletter and eventually made it out of the house before the day got *too* hot. Ish. Sort of. It may be winter, but I still wander around feeling as though I might swoon from the heat in true Southern lady fashion while my coworkers are wearing jackets and huddled together for warmth. It’s all relative.

I’m in the rare “peri-urban” Peace Corps post, so walking to town is no great hardship. A few kilometers to the farthest point I could conceivably want to go. Post office: nothing exciting to be found (WHERE ARE THE LETTERS YOU ALL ARE SUPPOSED TO SEND ME, HMMMMM?) Safaricom dealer: the woman at the desk was so delighted when I greeted her in Kiswahili that she immediately started trash-talking the trio of waifish Italian tourists standing two feet to my left. “They never even TRY,” she said gleefully as she handed me my new sim card. Bank: DAMN. ATM OUT OF ORDER. This would bring all the rest of my errands to a grinding, screeching halt. Luckily, I recalled seeing a sign for another one somewhere down the road … I set off in search of it and quickly landed myself in the tourist end of town. The signs were in Italian, every other building advertises safaris to Lamu (really?), and you can’t throw a stone without domino-ing down a row of sheds selling the same wooden giraffes and improbable paintings of Maasai walking along the beach. I ducked into a little café for breakfast (my usual favorite weekend spot is closed for Ramadan) only to discover that the cheapest item on the menu – a crepe with whipped cream – is over 400 shillings. WHAT KIND OF HELL IS THIS?! After wandering far too long, I discover that their ATM was also out of order, so I hightailed it the zillion miles back to my side of town. And gladly so. That place ain’t right.

After getting the monetary sitch figured out, I made it to the grocery store. No, not the market. If there IS a market, I haven’t found it yet – every time I ask my neighbors they look at me askance and say “Why? Can’t you find fresh produce at Mama Lucy’s Supermarket? That’s where I go.” Clearly, this is big city living at its most exciting. I created a minor scene arguing with a Kenyan teenager who was angry I wouldn’t buy him shit (“You’re a MZUNGU! You need to buy this for me!” he argued in Swahili) which I may blog about separately later, but overall, market run = overall success. I schlepped all my bags home in the sun by myself, but at least I was feeling active. The large pack of small children that roves through the bush around my building, which has finally stopped screaming “CIAO BELLA” at the top of their lungs when they see me (opting for “SHIKAMOO MAMA MZUNGU!” which is all kinds of adorable), surrounded me and offered to carry my bags. Which was a nice gesture. I think. Maybe. Or they wanted to run off with my eggs and laundry soap. Hard to tell for certain.

I spent the rest of the afternoon blasting Capital FM (when in Rome …), sweeping, mopping, and being sweaty. BUT MY HOUSE IS CLEAN AHAHAHAHAHA (sorry, really excited about that.) My life is made slightly easier by the fact that I invested in a proper mop, rather than relying on the “bucket and an old sweater” method that I never entirely got the hang of while living with my host family. It strains the back to be bent over that long. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Spare me the innuendo there.)

Around sunset, a coworker who lives nearby came over and asked to use my cell phone. She said the battery in hers wasn’t working, as evidenced by her test-charging it in my sitting room the day before to see if it was a problem with the phone or her wall socket. Whomever she was calling didn’t answer, so she handed it back, kicked off her shoes, and sank to the floor. She informed me that her sister had died the previous day, and she was trying to get in touch with her family to make arrangements.

I wasn’t sure what to say, partly because matatu smackdowns aside my Swahili is only decent-ish, and partly because what passes for supportive here is a little different from back home. Hired mourners aside, Kenya’s not a big “public show of grief” culture. Nor is it a “bear-hugs-and-sobbing-with-your-friends” culture. “Comfort yourself, dear” tells to be the refrain of even the most compassionate sympathizers. So I just slid down the wall and sat beside her, on the cement floor, in my empty sitting room, as she reclined silently with her face in her hands for a long while. I think that was the right thing, more or less. She seemed to appreciate it.

After she left, I made Weetabix and hardboiled eggs for dinner (what? I didn’t feel like cooking rice) and rewarded my long day with an episode of Firefly. I also text-skyped with some friends from America, which was simultaneously enormously restorative and a little hard. As much as I am pleased to be here, I do miss you guys. Oodles.

Tomorrow, I have an incredibly busy day. I’m meeting one-on-one with the district chairs of some major community service providers – major as in international, multi-million-dollar funds like USAID and AMREF. Slightly nervewracking, but I’m excited to be building those contacts. They could be extraordinarily useful. All in the name of turning in the best CNA possible and, of course, figuring out where I fit into this great humanitarian puzzle.

Until then … I think it’s time for some more Firefly.

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